New South African Beers Flavored with Boer History

tags: South Africa, beer




JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Bearded men wrapped in bandoliers of bullets give steely stares into the camera in an image from 1900. Most are gripping rifles, wearing hats and have pipes in their mouths. In another photograph on a sand-washed wall of the simple bar, a little boy, skeletal and sallow from malnutrition, sits on a chair, gazing blankly into the distance.

The Irish Ale House, a few stone buildings on a dusty, rocky farm in South Africa’s Northwest Province, is more than just a brewery. It’s a monument to the Irish Brigade, a group of Irishmen who fought with the country’s Boers against the English in the Anglo-Boer War, from 1899 to 1902.

Many thousands were killed in the conflict. Boer women and children died in masses in concentration camps. Following victory, the English executed the surviving Irish fighters as traitors to the British crown.

Ale House owner Dirk van Tonder honors the Irish rebels in the best way he knows: by making some of South Africa’s finest craft beer.




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